1ST WORLD WAR ‘ACTS OF KINDNESS’ – The Bath War Hospital Centenary

The Royal United Hospital’s charitable arts organisation Art at the Heart (AATH) has secured Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) from the ‘1st World War, Then and Now’ fund to commemorate the history and heritage of this vital War Hospital that will leave a legacy for many years to come. The Royal United Hospital (RUH) now occupies the former site of the Bath War Hospital and delivers acute health care to a catchment population of 500,000 people across Bath & North East Somerset, North Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire.

The exhibition will showcase a unique intergenerational art project delivered by Artist in Residence Edwina Bridgeman who provides weekly art workshops on both the Children and Adolescent’s Ward and Combe Ward; a Dementia friendly ward for elderly patients. Patients will have the opportunity to explore the history of the War Hospital and the many stories recounting community support and even incidents where animals (including a chicken!) provided therapeutic comfort for soldiers. Edwina is creating a 3D tapestry with patients and it will be displayed alongside the main WW1 Hospital exhibition and remain at the RUH as a permanent legacy.

In April 1916, demand for beds at the Bath War Hospital rapidly outstripped supply and large tents were erected to accommodate up to 1400 patients. Art at the Heart will be curating an exhibition in the RUH Central Gallery to reveal how ‘”small acts of kindness” from the community helped to support the operation of the hospital and were invaluable to the wellbeing and rehabilitation of the traumatised soldiers and how this was reflected in the day-to-day life at the Bath War Hospital, including reproductions of letters, photographs of soldiers, illustrations, poems, and artefacts sourced from local archives.

Visiting Professor from Bath University, Francis Duck will give a talk at The Min Chapel (Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases) in Bath city centre on Wednesday 15th June, and Bath Historian Andrew Swift will be giving a talk on Monday 11th July, for further details of these upcoming events visit www.artatruh.org/news-events/

In addition to the main grant from HLF, the Project is supported by The Theatre Royal Bath Creative Fund and a number of local supporting organisations such as Bath Boules and Bath Decorative and Fine Arts Society (BDFAS).

There will be an official opening for the Bath War Hospital Exhibition at the RUH on Monday 13th June where a bugler will play the Last Post and there will be interaction from the Natural Theatre Company. Art at the Heart will continue to work closely with Weston Heritage & Research Society (WHRS) who commemorated the Centenary of the opening of the hospital on 23rd April.

‘The Bath War Hospital Hen’ Bath in Time photograph

‘The Bath War Hospital Hen’ Bath in Time photograph

Bath War Hospital Tapestry

Bath War Hospital Tapestry

‘Bath War Hospital, Ward no.10’ Bath in Time photograph

‘Bath War Hospital, Ward no.10’ Bath in Time photograph

The central corridor exhibition ‘Acts of Kindness’ will take place at the RUH from 13th June – 13th October 2016.

Venue: Art at the Heart of the RUH, Main Corridor Gallery, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Combe Park, Bath BA1 3NG

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 8am-8pm

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